View Full Version : Possible PCT Section

01-20-2009, 19:56
I've been thinking alot about my 'hiking time' in late july-august.... thinking about doing a 6-7wk pct section (still in very early stages of planning) ideally i'd probably fly out to san fran to visit family for a day and then somehow get to the trail... at the closest/easiest possible trailhead from sanfran and head north till i run out of time...

any ideas for start locations, suggestions, experiences getting from san fran to the pct are welcome, or anything else related for that matter

also anyone up for a road trip either going and/or coming back that time let me know ;)

jersey joe
01-20-2009, 20:09
I did a one week hike out west a few years ago. Flew into San Fran, rented a car, drove through Yosemite and picked up the PCT just south of Yosemite at Agnew Meadows in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Probably not the easiest place to get to from San Fran, but it is an awesome area. Here is a link to some of my pictures...

01-20-2009, 20:41
As Joe said, your closest TH to San Fran is probably Tuolomne/Sonora Pass area, south of Tahoe. In 6-7 weeks you should be able to get close to Oregon. If moving fairly well you could make it to Ashland (close to I-5) or at a more leisurely pace, the I-5 crossing in Cali, close to Dunsmuir and Castella.

You'll deal with some hot days but this should ensure you don't have much if any snow to deal with.

Spirit Walker
01-20-2009, 23:30
The closest access is from near South Lake Tahoe. The Desolation Wilderness is the closest backpacking to San Francisco - used to be about 2 1/2 hours drive vs. about 5 to Yosemite.

01-21-2009, 10:55
Rather than trying something close, why not get on a bus and go to Ashland (Medford might be the closest stop) or Bend and hike north? If you start in Bend (you'll need to hitch up to one of two passes) you'll probably be able to make it to Canada and get to experience WA and OR when they're in their prime.

Alternatively, spent a few days with the fam, then pick up a short hop flight from SFO to Ridgecrest. Arrange a shuttle via the PCT-L to Kennedy Meadows and hike north. You could easily make South Lake Tahoe (and a bus) and have some more time for the fam.

01-21-2009, 12:05
The closest access is from near South Lake Tahoe. The Desolation Wilderness is the closest backpacking to San Francisco - used to be about 2 1/2 hours drive vs. about 5 to Yosemite.

Also, you should be able to knock out 500 miles in which case you'll be eligible for a thru-hiker permit ($5) from the PCTA which will cover you through the Desolation Wilderness. Otherwise, they will turn you around, and it's a PITA to get them locally.


While you're at it, you're supposed to get a CA fire permit. (free)


01-21-2009, 12:21
I am interested to know when certain sections of the PCT are "in their prime". Looking for fewest bugs & least precipitation. Are any of you familiar with NoCal, Oregon and Washington?

01-21-2009, 12:40
so if i have the possibility of getting 500, i should get the pass, there won't be any trouble, if i don't get that many miles i assume

01-21-2009, 13:12
oh and i'm not familiar to the area, i went for a wedding in napa valley/sanfran once but that was before i really got into hiking

01-21-2009, 13:21
damn a.d.d. to continue my thought process from previous thread

I have family and friends in sanfran and seattle/vancouver so flying to either of those before starting is a good option for me... i'm wanting to work in a quick visit w/ people i don't normally get to see... also wouldn't mind being in an area where thru-hikers are coming thru, i know w/ my lower millage, i wouldn't see them but once, but its a chance to do a little trial magic too

01-21-2009, 19:48
PCTA Thruhiker Permits are good for 500 or more miles. There's no penalty if you don't make the 500, but you do have to have at least 500 miles between your starting and ending points on the permit.

You said you have family and/or friends in Seattle/Vancouver. Hopefully that's Vancouver BC. If so, you are perfectly positioned for a southbound trek.

If your friends can't drive you there, Greyhound Canada runs a twice daily bus from the Vancouver BC Amtrak station right to Manning Park Lodge. Walk 1/2 mile east along the highway and meet the (unofficial) PCT. Turn south, go 8 miles to the US border and meet the PCT at the monument. You should be able to reach Ashland, and you'll meet a lot of thruhikers headed north as you pass through Oregon.

If you leave from Seattle, take the train to Vancouver BC and catch the Greyhound over to Manning Park.

Wandering Bob

01-21-2009, 19:54
i've been looking at plane ticket cost, its cheaper to fly to seattle... but there is the possibility of a free flight if i go to sanfran (my fav. cousin, well on most days)

keep in mind (this is a reminder for me to) i'm still just in the phase of bouncing ideas around.... so i can set a goal to save up for

01-22-2009, 00:07
Option 2: From San Francisco going north...........

Start at Echo Lake Resort along highway 50 (just west of South Lake Tahoe). Go north for 488 miles to Castle Craigs State Park on I-5. That gets you through all those little towns where there's no public transportation, and it's easy to get in and out of both trailheads so your family can drop you off/pick you up. Worst case at the end, you hitch 4 miles into Dunsmuir and catch Amtrak's Coast Starlight south to Oakland (goes all the way to Los Angeles) or north as far as Seattle.

You didn't give any indication of what pace you are capable of maintaining. Assuming you hike 6 days per week for 6 weeks, that's 13.6 mpd. (488 miles / 36 days) You would have one "zero" (rest) day each week - if you want to use it.


Option 3: South from San Francisco:

Start at Tuolumne Meadows (in Yosemite Natl Park, a 5.5 hour drive from SF) and hike 442 miles south to highway 178 at Walker Pass. That's 12-1/4 mpd for 6 weeks; 7 weeks would be better, as your daily pace will be less than on more gentle trail. You will want and need your zero days!

This gets you the high Sierra section of the PCT and a shot at climbing Mt Whitney. It also gives you a lot of resupply and bail-out points early on. You will need to be in pretty good shape from the get-go as there's a lot :-? of elevation gain and loss.

At Walker Pass, you'll have to hitch 15 miles west to Onyx, where you can get a KERN bus to Lake Isabella, and another to Bakersfield. From BFD, take Amtrak to Sacramento and the Coast Starlight to Oakland, or Greyhound to SF. BFD also has an airport.

Note: it will be brutally hot from Kennedy Meadows to Walker Pass in late August.


I'd still opt for the much more scenic southbound trek through WA and OR even though you'd be alone much of the way. Southbound thruhikers start in June, depending on the amount of snow in the North Cascades - which this year is tail-deep to a tall Giraff and getting deeper. You'd be behind them, so you wouldn't be breaking trail. It all depends on your level of experience and self-confidence. Northern WA is rugged and wild with very few road crossings, but the scenery is unbelieveable!

Wandering Bob
Portland, OR

01-22-2009, 01:31
ummm my pace on my two long at sections, start slow work my way up, i try to start not going over 6-8miles for a few days, and slowly speed up, i don't like to do over 15, but from what i hear most do longer miles on the pct, just because the way it is... so really i don't know, but there is only one way to find out ;)
also i've stuck to shelters for the most part, so i won't have shelters influenceing my distance like they've done on the at.

01-22-2009, 01:40
and not much experience in snow hoping to be in areas, where its mostly gone but not hot enough to give me a heat stroke

Many Walks
01-22-2009, 01:50
Gaiter, we moved to Northern CA after our thru. We live in the mountains near Oroville about 20 miles from the PCT at LaPorte and Belden. We've been to San Fran, Yosemite, Castle Crags, Mt. Shasta, Redwoods, Burney, Lassen, Muir Woods, some of the PCT, and we're hiking the Tahoe rim on June. The point is we're within 3 hours or so from all of them. We'd be glad to help with transportation to get you to and/or from the trail anywhere in this general area. Just let me know through a PM as your plans develop. It would be no problem at all.

Jeff, sounds like Wandering Bob may have a better handle on the PCT. We've only been here a year, but it seems (and have been told) it doesn't rain in this area between June and Aug, it does get hot and some of the higher elevations are exposed, but a lot of it is nice evergreen forest. We were on the PCT in late June and it still had a little snow pack, but was good hiking. Bugs weren't bad, but we did get some. August at Lassen was pretty warm with no cover. December at Burney Falls on the PCT was cool but pleasant in the deep woods, but we caught that between storms. That area has had a lot of snow since we were through there. I'm sure others have had more experience than we have and can give you better information. We're working up to a PCT thru in 2010 or 2011 and will know more then. At this point I think in Northern CA the PCT would be best to hike in the June - Aug timeframe. On most of the areas we've hiked water sources were abundant. Wish I could be more help.